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Tuesday, Dec 5, 2023

Middlebury launches fundraising campaign aiming to raise $600 million by 2028

The launch of ""For Every Future"" took place on Oct. 26 in the newly renovated Christian A. Johnson Memorial Building.
The launch of ""For Every Future"" took place on Oct. 26 in the newly renovated Christian A. Johnson Memorial Building.

Middlebury students, administrators, faculty, alumni and the Board of Trustees gathered on Oct. 26 in the newly renovated Christian A. Johnson Memorial Building to celebrate the public launch of “For Every Future: The Campaign for Middlebury,” the college’s campaign to raise $600 million by June 30, 2028. The campaign has received $383 million and engaged 64% of alumni as of Oct. 31, funding plans to improve financial aid, academics and student experiences at the college.

The campaign aims to raise money for specific college initiatives such as the financial aid program, academic programs and student life at Middlebury. The campaign began on July 1, 2021 after being disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic; the most recent previous campaign lasted from 2007 to 2015 and raised $535.5 million. The funds will be divided among various priorities, with $215 million for “access,” $120 million for “academic excellence,” $70.5 million for “experience” and $117 million for “capital projects,” in addition to $77.5 million for annual fundraising, according to the campaign case for support.

At the campaign’s public launch, President Laurie Patton reflected on the goals of the campaign and thanked the gathered audience for supporting the college. 

“This campaign is going to accomplish things. It will ensure access to a Middlebury education, it will enhance our academic excellence — already a model for so many in the world. It will expand our experiential programs, and fund the buildings and structures that are so important to teaching and learning,” Patton said at the launch.

She also expressed her gratitude for all supporters of Middlebury — ranging from those who have given their first $5 donation to those who donated $25 million — and explained that the campaign’s public phase is now aiming to engage 85% of undergraduate alumni in a variety of ways in order to build community at the college.

Middlebury’s plan aims to increase financial accessibility at the college by maintaining the college’s fiscal capability to provide need-blind admissions for domestic students, as well as increase flexible and emergency funding to reduce the associated costs of travel or necessary clothing. 

Donations are most often restricted to funding financial aid, followed by internships, according to Alanna Shanley ’99, associate vice president for advancement and co-executive director of the campaign. Shanley explained that the college works with its donors to match their priorities with the college’s needs in all fundraising matters, and that Middlebury does not accept every gift offered because of conflicts between requested limitations and the college’s need for future flexibility.

“We do strike a balance between how much restriction we can feasibly follow through on versus how specific a donor wants to get,” Shanley said. “What we're trying to do is match donor goals with institutional goals and find ways to bring those things together.”

Middlebury will also use the funds to improve academics by creating greater training and professional development for faculty, as well as funding sabbatical opportunities and elevating the capabilities of current professors.

“It's making sure that we’ve got great people teaching you the coursework that is compelling. On top of that, we also have to make sure that our professors are constantly reinventing themselves, giving them the nourishment they need to be at the very top of their game,” said Dan Courcey, vice president for advancement. 

Courcey clarified that this funding will be directed to enhancing current professors, and that while opportunities for expanding the size of the faculty exist in the future, that will not be the use of endowed funding raised in this campaign.

Middlebury also hopes to expand experiential learning opportunities such as Oratory Now and the Innovation Hub to enhance student life on campus. Another priority is enhancing internship and career opportunities for current and postgraduate students in order to help them pursue employment or further education. The college plans to ensure that every graduate of Middlebury has received training in conflict transformation, cross-cultural literacy, data analysis and climate issues, according to Jami Black, associate vice president for advancement and co-executive director of the campaign.

Another goal of the fundraising is to create endowed funding for assistant coach positions for all Middlebury varsity teams, a priority for the college to enhance student athlete experiences and improve compensation for staff in one area of the college.

“We’re one of the top NCAA DIII programs in the country. So we’ve got to figure out a way to pay our people better and to have a sustained level of funding for the athletic program and the assistant coaches,” Courcey added.

The campaign also plans to dedicate funds to various renovations and the construction of new buildings on campus, including the recently renovated Johnson Memorial Building and ongoing updates to athletic facilities such as the Snow Bowl. Additional projects currently in the design phase include a quantitative learning center in BiHall and a new art museum Battell Hall once the new first-year residence hall is completed.

Meeting the goal of 85% of alumni engagement requires connecting with an additional 4,000 to 5,000 undergraduate alumni who are currently not engaged with the college in any way, according to Courcey. He described that goal as difficult yet integral to the campaign’s goal of broadening college interactions beyond the 50-60% of alumni who engage in any given year.

“This [campaign] is about sending a statement about Middlebury: what it means, where it wants to be, what it wants to do. But it's also about engaging our constituency, making a statement about this place and this community, and inviting our alumni into that conversation,” Courcey said.

Courcey also explained that the college intends to create engagement through various methods other than donations, such as alumni interviews with prospective students, having conversations and networking with current students, attending events like class reunions and creating affinity-based programs for alumni with similar interests, experiences or identities.

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“It's not purely just check-writing, it's opening up your heart and opening up your spirit, your home… to Middlebury, beyond the economics for what the campaign stands for,” Courcey said.

Shanley acknowledged that the alumni engagement goal is ambitious, but stressed its value to the college overall and building a stronger Middlebury community, including funding opportunities at Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey.

“It is indeed an ambitious goal, but it's one that we are pursuing, I think, for all the right reasons,” she said. “It’s really important for our community, it’s important for this campaign and it’s important for the life of the institution.”

In the past week, the college received a $38 million unrestricted endowment gift that brought the campaign’s total to $383 million. This donation can be used for any purpose by the college, according to Black, who called it “the best gift you can get as an institution” due to its potential to benefit a wide range of students.

That recent donation has brought the college’s total fundraising close to the intermediate goal of $400 million, which Courcey said the college aims to raise by June 30, 2024. The ongoing process of fundraising and increasing alumni engagement will span at least the next five years.

“It's been an extraordinary journey, and we want to bring as many members of our community into the conversation as possible,” Patton said at the campaign launch.

President Laurie Patton addressed the assembled crowd, saying "It's been an extraordinary journey."

Editor’s note: Editor in Chief Maggie Reynolds ’24 contributed reporting to this article.

Ryan McElroy

Ryan McElroy '25 (he/him) is a managing editor for The Middlebury Campus.  

He previously served as a news editor and staff writer.  

Ryan is majoring in History with a possible minor in psychology or English. He also takes part in Middlebury Mock Trial and on campus. He spent this past summer working as a research assistant in the History department studying Middle Eastern immigration to New England.